5 Books That’ll Make You Sob

Have you ever cried on the subway? Well, I tried it the other day – not intentionally of course – and was taken aback by how cathartic it was. Looking around at the other subway patrons, all clearly not crying, I felt like baring my tears and mascara streaked cheeks was the most pure emotional confession. Since this encounter, I’ve been pondering the ironies of why crying feels so good, and pandering to every book with ‘tear jerker’ in the review – all the while not crying nearly as much as I could be.

Crying in public is great because of the purity of expression and the shedding of boundaries between private and public. We won’t peer pressure you to cry in public, but here to privately massage your tear ducts and throttle your emotions until you’re more vulnerable than champagne and truffle fries at Drake’s dinner table are 5 wonderful tear jerkers.


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara


Not only is my copy of this book covered in highlighter and underlines (the writing is so beautiful), it’s also covered in big salty tears. It’s a book many have lovingly dubbed the most depressing book of the year and I’m not one to argue with fellow bibliophiles. The story covers a lot of ground and a lot of chronology. If the wounding childhood traumas don’t make you weep the heart-breaking endurance of friendship between the four male protagonists is sure to release the flood gates.


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


E. Lockhart’s critically acclaimed YA novel is a tear jerker and super eerie to boast. Cadence Sinclair is the book’s protagonist. Summering not far from Martha’s Vineyard every summer with her family, the Liars collectively, her memories are filled with mostly sweet things except for a single summer, summer 15, which she can’t seem to remember. The family is hushed when it comes to the topic and a veil of secrecy regarding what actually happened persists through most of the story line. Cadence’s memory slowly begins to return, and with it the reality of consequences for the things that occured. 


“Chixulub”, from Tooth and Claw by T.C. Boyle


T.C. Boyle is an incredible author in his ability to weave the most immense metaphors into the tiniest stories of human life. This short (which you can also listen to courtesy of the New Yorker Fiction Podcast) relays the story of a fatal car crash through the overwhelmingly large and looming scope of a meteor crashing to earth. Parental loss is the apocalypse, and a natural phenomenon is family atrocity. It’s a ridiculously heart breaking story that will have you babbling like a baby not just because of the melancholic tone or the emotional twists and turns, but because the structure is so beautiful it’s worth shedding at least a single poetic tear in homage to its mastery.


Room by Emma Donoghue 


Awarded a number of prizes I won’t bore you with, this unsettling story about a young boy and his mother trapped in a room will make you cry until your ducts are wrung dry. Following her abduction and rape, Jack, a central character in the novel, comes into the world. Knowing only the room and his mother, four walls are the confines of his universe. When his mother learns that their abductor is out of a job and will likely sell the house, she begins to worry that he will kill them both, leading mother and son to craft a plan for escape. The story is inspired by a true event and rich in all the sob-worthy themes that could trigger any emotionally vulnerable reader: trauma, mental illness, loss, abuse, and love. 

Get the Kleenex ready.


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


This book will make you feel a lot of emotions, mostly sad ones marked by puffy eyes and fluttering heart strings, but a lot of emotions generally speaking. As you may have already guessed from the title, Miller’s book is a new take on the classic tale of Achilles and the Trojan War – because honestly nothing makes you cry more than a heart wrenching adaption of a story already so near and dear. This take on The Iliad centers heavily on the relationships at stake and the epic losses suffered in a war. 

We sincerely hope these reads gut your tear ducts and bring you all the sadness you could dream of. Have a favorite of your own? Share it with us in the comments!


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